The voluntary environmental governance project

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Project leader(s)

The voluntary environmental governance project in the Regulatory Institutions Network (Australian National University) and the Amsterdam Law School (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) is funded by the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research.

The research investigates emerging trends in voluntary environmental governance and examines the conditions for its successful implementation within existing institutional settings. Voluntary environmental governance involves, among others, green building rating tools, forest management systems, and package waste agreements. Policymakers, industry stakeholders and academics consider that voluntary environmental governance may be an effective substitute to environmental legislation. However, current theorizing fall short to sufficiently explain what forms of voluntary environmental governance may be successful in what contextual settings.

The project focusses on three main themes:

  • Advancing our understanding of contextual and structural conditions that shape the development and implementation and performance of voluntary environmental governance.
  • Applying regulatory and governance theories to advance our understanding of the role voluntary environmental governance plays in addressing environmental risks; and the role it plays in pluralistic governance arrangements.
  • Mapping and analysing existing forms of voluntary environmental governance in different countries and different policy areas.

The research will generate empirical advances and theoretical innovation through the comparative study of various examples of voluntary environmental governance in different countries and different policy areas. This will provide an improved knowledge base for the development of informed and effective forms of Voluntary Environmental Governance to supplement existing environmental legislation.

The project aims to advance existing theorizing on voluntary environmental governance and to build bridges with policymakers and industry stakeholders to discuss and share research findings.


Image: Dr Jeroen van der Heijden (RegNet)

Professor Jeroen van der Heijden

Professor Jeroen van der Heijden is the inaugural Chair of Regulatory Practice at the School of Governance, University of Wellington, New Zealand (School of Government) and Honorary Professor at...

Climate, energy & the environment cluster

Climate, energy and the environment

This cluster has four broad regulatory and governance research themes: identifying obstacles and options for effective energy governance; analysing state and private governance mechanisms for mitigating climate change; examining the opportunities and constraints of the green economy in transforming infrastructure and urban development; and exploring creative regulatory solutions to transnational environmental problems.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet